Communication Boards for LIFE Skills Teachers and Students
They are so important to help students develop their own mode of communication and also develop it to the point that is is reliable.
I have had a lot of training sessions this week gearing up for the start of the school year. They have ranged from content area to behavior to classroom setup and organization. One thing has come up over and over again- modes of communication for students who cannot talk.
A number of students in LIFE Skills end up in managed care at some point after graduation, which can range from in-home care providers to group homes to day habilitation facilities. Whatever the situation, according to the Disability and Abuse Project, 70% of them are likely to be abused at some point or another. I have met some wonderful people who work in all of these settings and I am not implying all care providers are abusers… but the facts remain: most people in managed care will be abused physical, verbally, or sexually.
The one thing that can lessen the likelihood that abuse will happen is the ability to communicate- if a person can talk they are less likely to be abused. We have a finite number of years to teach a communication system before a student leaves our care. In that time, I suggest a student master a communication board like this one:
This example is a multipage system with tabs indicating the page topic.
It works well with students who can handle the multi-page format, but that is not for everyone. There are alternatives that consist of one page or even smaller, like this one:
The format you choose will depend entirely on the student, there level and abilities, and the expected outcomes of their programming.
Now, if a student really excels at learning a multi-page system, then I suggest you look into a high-tech device that is set up in a similar manner. If this seems like too much or your student needs the most basic of communication systems but you still need a visual system for student who are not able to point or access this core board, try an eye gaze board like the one below:
Love this eye-gaze board?
Print yourself a FREEBIE!! (Get my FREE Eye-gaze Board!)- Print it on heavy paper, cut out the middle white section, and, if you choose, laminate it to make is sturdy… even a limited yes-no communication system will help significantly with students who are nonverbal to be less likely to suffer abuse and also help them to express their wants and needs.
Whatever format you choose, please work your best to give each student you work with a a way to communicate. It literally can impact their well being and safety for years to come.
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